Tag: Book review

Book Review: Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan

It will come as no surprise that this is a zombie book. And it put me in mind, a bit, of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village.”

Small enclosed town, threat of the Unconsecrated in the forest, and a girl who dreams of freedom. A girl has three options upon coming of age: get married, stay with your family, or join the mysterious “Sisterhood” who are the governing force. Mary, orphaned and rejected by her older brother, is caught between marrying a best friend she doesn’t love, suffering from unrequited love of her best friend’s little brother, and not wanting to believe in God or the Sisterhood.


When the zombies, sorry, Unconsecrated attack, Mary, her betrothed, her brother and his wife, and her love interest and HIS betrothed and a child retreat into a path that takes them out of the village. Only, they seem to have never learned of Roman numerals and the paths lead them mostly to death and dead ends.

I couldn’t empathize with Mary as she waffled between the boy she was betrothed to (who was in love with her but also her best friend) and the boy she “loved” (though he was also waffling between the two girls). The history of the Sisterhood and the development of the village was never explained, and by the end I just didn’t care.

The ending sets up, of course, for a sequel, but I think I’ll pass.

Book Review: Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede

Thirteenth Child
Patricia Wrede

Lan is the 7th son of a 7th son. Of course, he’s also the 14th child in the family. And his twin, Eff, is the unlucky 13th child. In an alternative history of the United States, where steam dragons exist, magic is used for everyday chores, and Lewis and Clark never made it back, Eff is growing up with the knowledge that she is cursed and expected to become evil.

Wrede provides an interesting premise, an alternate United States where magic, but she’s done this before, with the letter series she did with Carol Stevenson. And the setting, though with much potential, was lacking. I wanted to know more about the amazing creatures that were supposedly beyond the barriers and the lack of information about a steamdragon, why it was called that, what it actually looked like, etc was annoying. It felt jumbled mixing mythical creatures plus those extinct in our present day.

Eff’s family relocates from their hometown to a Western post so her father can become a teacher of a magic university. All of the children learn magic at school, though mostly only a Avrupan (European) style of spell casting. An unorthodox day school teacher also introduces Eff and a few other kids to Asian and Aphrikan (African) styles. Her older sister runs off to marry into a group who believe magic is a crutch, but is shown to still be using basic spells, so there’s not much of a sense of life in that community without magic.

Though I felt like I captured Wrede’s intention, overall I was disappointed. Things split off in too many directions: animals, characters, and nothing felt fully developed. Years of time passed quickly and, while more realistic than total self realization in a week at the beach, the whole thing felt awkward.

It was, at best, okay.

Book Review: 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You

10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can’t Because He Needs the Job)
Rev. Oliver “Buzz” Thomas

I picked this one up on a whim, stumbling across it somewhere now long forgotten. It’s short, pointed, and thoughtful and written in an approachable tone.

Thomas addresses ten familiar points/questions that are items we often see brought up in the news, from pulpits, and hotly contested among Christians.

1. How did it all begin?
2. Why are we here?
3. What is the Bible?
4. Is there really such a thing as a miracle?
5. How do I please God?
6. What about women?
7. What about homosexuality?
8. What about other faiths?
9. What happens after we die?
10. How will it all end?

Each question is thoughtfully explored, given some historical context and, where he can, Thomas points to translation of the Greek texts as we have them. (BTW–there’s the new “oldest Bible” online–if the hits haven’t crashed the server again) It’s practically written to–not attempting to revolutionize one’s opinions but answer, in the friendly pastoral way, questions that you might have.

I was intrigued by some of the points made and wish Thomas had included a) footnotes and b) a reading list. I think this will spark discussion and could spark research interest. Certainly it’d be nice to know where he got some of his information. An interesting read.

Book Review: Graceling

Kristin Cashore

I kept hearing that this book was good. And it duly followed me home and sat in my library basket. And sat. And sat. Finally, when TeenLibrarian said “super awesome must read!” I cracked the cover.

In the kingdoms people are born with Graces, which come apparent when their eyes change to be two different colors, usually during childhood. Some Graces are very helpful (healing horses), some worrying (mind reading) and some odd (climbing trees). Those that are useful are put into the service of the King, others are left with their family, outsiders not fully accepted because of their difference.

And among the Graced is Katsa, who has the Grace of killing. Now required by the King, her uncle, to be his enforcer, Katsa is not especially pleased with her role in life. When she meets another Graced fighter, though, life takes an unexpected change. There are battles, cruelty, survival tests, love, and murder.

It’s one of the best written books I’ve read in quite a while. There’s a lyrical epic-poem quality to the writing, you’re easily absorbed into the story and the emotions of the characters. You feel for Katsa, a young woman required by her king to kill or maim despite she often sees that the king’s actions are wrong. Supporting characters are well defined, allowing for loving family relationships, new friends, and realistic insights into how even good people at times have only their own best interests at heart.

Well done, I’m looking forward to the sequel due out this fall.

Book Review: Tumtum and Nutmeg

Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall
by Emily Bearn
Illustrated by Nick Price

It always surprises people when in the midst of a serious discussion of library policies, information literacy, sustainability in the current economy, etc–I can suddenly vacillate to talking about the cute new mouse book I’m reading.

Fortunately, as they’re shaking their head, I have a lot of talk about. Bearn has combined three short novels that are paired beautifully with Price’s detailed drawings.

Tumtum and Nutmeg live in a broom closet long hidden behind a dresser. They live in style, with many bed and bathrooms, and a glorious ballroom that isn’t often used. Their residence is part of a ramshackle cottage where an absentminded-professor father and his children Arthur and Lucy live. Having no children of their own, the mice decide to take on the human children, caring for their clothes and doing some repairs to the cottage.

In the first story we meet the mice as Nutmeg decides she’d like to help the children. When their evil aunt arrives and poisons Tumtum, Nutmeg gains assistance from the local General Marchmouse to thwart her. Nutmeg is sadly, given little credit for her various engenuity –though she writes back and forth with Lucy and Arthur, who dub her a good fairy, especially when they drive away the aunt. In their second and third tales, General Marchmouse, who obviously doesn’t have enough to do, spurs the two less-adventuresome mice, into situations where they run against rats, sinking ships, pogo sticks, gerbils, and a teacher who doesn’t like rodents.

The stories are a delightful and quick read. While I was a little skeptical at Tumtum spending the days reading and eating and lounging whilst Nutmeg bustles about the kitchen–one certainly feels sympathy that their tranquility is so often disrupted by their near neighbor. Bearn provides a lot of detail that brings to life how much differently things are viewed from mouse size (one pork sausage, 6″ long, feeds several hundred mice).

It’s a thick book, being a 3-in-1, just over 500 pages. But it will capture the heart of the readers as they cheer Nutmeg and Tumtum through their adventures and safely home. For mouse lovers everywhere.